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The dynamic range of a piece (how big the change from the softest to the loudest part) varies greatly by genre.

Those pieces with the biggest range seem to be mostly in the western classical orchestral tradition. In a quite concert hall the base noise level might be 60 db and the peaks of the performance might be 110 db for brief moments. So the range of the piece might be 40 db (the orchestra has to play louder than the ambient sound to be heard at all). Recently some pieces have gotten so loud that EU officials have stepped in since they are in violation of hearing protection regulations.

Rock concerts have a much smaller dynamic range, perhaps between 10-20 db. Recorded music and broadcast music is artificially compressed so that it never gets as soft as the original. This is done so that the music can "punch through" the surrounding noise especially on radio where the loud stations tend to attract more listeners and for those driving in autos.

When full range CD's were first released people complained because if they made them loud enough to hear the quiet parts then they were too loud at the climaxes. Some players and receivers now have options to compress the sound for late night listening.

The rise of continually loud pop music and the use of headphones for listening has led to widespread hearing loss especially among young people. This is now a major public health issue, but doesn't get much attention. Warnings on headphones and MP3 players don't change behavior.

Trying to find a quite place in the modern world is difficult and I think many people are unable to cope with this situation, they just need to be surrounded by sound and activity. Perhaps the rise of email, IM and texting indicates that people are afraid to even be alone with their thoughts...

[As I'm writing this the gardening crew up the street is using a variety of gas powered lawn equipment and shattering the quiet of the morning. The situation had gotten so bad that my village put a ban in against gas blowers from November to April. Rakes are a thing of the past.]

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 08:38:18 AM EST
Yea. As a public transport rider, I find walkmans, DiscMans, Mpeg-players, iPods & co a crime against humanity. Car radios too, especially when playing techno for the whole block while the teens are still dressing up and chatting before the Friday night rush to the disco. Then again, cars themselves are loud, and in Central Europe, there are ever fewer outdoor places where one can escape their noise.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 10:36:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Damn kids.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 10:39:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I feel I am turning into a grumpy old man...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 10:46:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then again, cars themselves are loud

yes!  though I suppose horses were loud prior to cars, and people in aggregate are loud regardless--

Still, cars (and buses) are a constant background hum--the sound of modern life in the West, I suppose.  So people get away from it all in the country, in quiet spots.  I found a great quote about this, relating to 4'33:

The origin of the concept of 4'33", i.e., a silent frame filled with non-intentional environmental sounds, is debatable. But when Cage was a Fellow at Wesleyan's Center of Advanced Studies (1960-61), he was asked to compile a list of books having the greatest influence on his thought. One of these was Luigi Russolo's , the Italian Futurist, The Art of Noises (1916). Cage referred to The Art of Noises in his 1948 lecture at Vassar. In this book there is a chapter that presages 4'33", i.e.,"The Noises of Nature and Life". Russolo begins by poetically describing many of the sounds of nature. Then comes a remarkable statement:

And here it can be demonstrated that the much poeticized silences with which the country restores nerves shaken by city life are made up of an infinity of noises, and that these noises have their own timbres, their own rhythms, and a scale that is very delicately enharmonic in its pitches. It has been neither said nor proven that these noises are not a very important part (or in many cases the most important part) of the emotions that accompany the beauty of certain panoramas, the smile of certain countrysides!

But let us leave nature and the country (which would be a tomb without noises) and enter a noisy modern city. Here, with machines, life has created the most immense, the most varied sources of noise. But if the noises of the country are few, small, and pleasing, then those of the city ... Oh! To have to listen to noises from dawn to dusk, eternal noise!

http://solomonsmusic.net/4min33se.htm



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 10:49:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know if you've ever been in an anechoic chamber, but utter silence reveals itself to be a lack of reflections. An echoic silence is filled with sound, but not with noise.

Not only that but your neural networks are chattering away all the time even where there is no stimulus. It's what neurons do when they're at home. So when 'nothing' is happening, the low-level neural chatter comes into consciousness. ie the Noise becomes Signal.

One can study this effect by lying in a bath of body temperature water in a totally black bathroom when noone else is in the house. It is not the isolation tank of Dr John Lilley or Michael Jacksob, but it will be effectively spooky.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 11:38:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sat leaning against a table one night , to the light of a single overhead bulb, all the doors were locked as it was a really rough estate, everyone was out, when all of a sudden, everything went black ,and someone tapped me on the shoulder. I screamed, dropped the book and flicked the light switch, nothing happened, panic ensued, till i managed to turn the kitchen light on. It turned out that the lightbulb hadn't been put in properly, and its bayonet fitting had disengaged, and it had fallen directly onto my shoulder.

Always check you've put your light bulbs in properly or it will come back to haunt you

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 11:57:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not me. I can still remember when kids carried loud ghetto blasters with them. Not as many as use ipods and the like these days, but they were a lot noisier. I prefer the current system.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 03:15:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I too remember those, but for me, no improvement, because

  1. ghetto blasters, pocket radios and other headphone-less noisemakers weren't (and aren't) allowed on public transport here;
  2. in practice, culturally (as well as in volume), ghetto blasters have been succeeded by car radios equipped with mega-bass, played at full volume with pulled-down windows; to get girls' attention on a bored evening (cruisin') or just on daily commute/errands;
  3. the many iPod-ers can ensure saturation coverage in closed spaces;
  4. with ghetto blasters, you at least heard the music, not just the monotonous rhythm.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 07:47:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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